The phrase ‘a game of two halves’ is probably the oldest football cliché in the world – after all, isn’t every game? – but it’s probably the best way of describing our hard fought victory against our local rivals Stofold on Tuesday night.
What looked like a stroll in the park when we cruised into a 3-0 lead after half an hour in a match where we could at that point have been leading by five, somehow became a second half backs to the wall battle to hang on to the three points.
This truly was a match of two totally contrasting halves when, unsettled by conceding two goals, one either side of the break, we quickly saw – despite the radical improvement in form over the last month – how thin the line between victory and defeat can be.
It’s moments – episodes – like these that define not just where you belong in a footballing sense, but tell you who you are, what you are made of. How you react to both success and adversity, or in the words of Kipling how you “meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same” that says everything about you, both as a team and an individual.
It also tells us that while we are certainly heading in the right direction we still have a way to go and need to realise that the reason so many people all over the world love this crazy game so much is that no matter what the scoreline is, or how good or bad or indifferent any performance is at any given moment, absolutely nothing should be taken for granted.
It’s probably more to do with belief and confidence than about complacency and it was as much when, as it was why, we conceded that gave everyone the collywobbles. In the resultant panic, our second half performance was totally unrecognisable from our showing for most of the opening period.
Thankfully a fourth goal in the 86th minute calmed the jitters although we all know that we were very fortunate that Stotfold had squandered a chance to level the match just two minutes earlier.
In truth the only time this season we have played a consistently excellent whole 90 minutes this season was against Barton Rovers, but at least we have the consolation of knowing that on this occasion it did not cost us any points and we can learn from the experience and build on it.
It showed us, above all, that we must never allow our standards to drop during the course of a game no matter how far ahead we might be because on another day we might well have paid the price.
Thankfully what we are enjoying is stability in the starting line up with a regular strength in depth to come from the sidelines when called upon to do so. The plus side is that such continuity creates great understanding between all members of the team while the downside, of course, is that with so many games to play and fewer players being rotated, the risk of tiredness is always a factor.
Next up we visit Colney Heath (Sat ko 3pm) who have managed just one league win this season but nonetheless a side we underestimate at our peril Hopefully we can maintain our concentration to extend our winning run which has seen us take maximum points from our last four games and score 14 goals in the process. We then face a tricky away trip to Harpenden Town on Tuesday night. (ko 7.30pm)
Then it’s all eyes on to the FA Vase again when Yaxley are the visitors the following weekend.
See you there.